James D. McCallister

author of the Edgewater County series

DIXIANA Research and Writing Continues

Seven hundred pages; one-hundred eighty six thousand words. DIXIANA rolls on.

As we enter the last week of the third month of writing this massive Southern literary novel (and with my personal deadline looming in another month’s time), over the last few days I’ve suffered something of a crisis of confidence. Not so much over DIXIANA, which is overwhelming on its own terms, but rather in this uncertain period of (seemingly) endless waiting to hear back from a variety of submissions, including the most important of my career so far.

Losing my agent last month certainly didn’t help matters.

That situation came from my own lapse in judgement (I suppose—a final assessment on that remains to be seen), and there’s no going back down that path, except in pursuing another agent, which I suppose could happen. DOGS OF PARSONS HOLLOW may yet be published in some form. As it stands, though, DOGS is only one small piece of my overall output, and hardly the only manuscript on which my future success rests.

Having said that, I could use the boost that comes with a ‘yes’ from some corner of the literary world. Maybe news will come soon, or not at all. As any writer will tell you, cultivating patience and perseverance are the only ways of keeping sane and getting on with the business of your life, whether writing-related or otherwise. So we wait.

Either way, though, the Taoist in me knows that no one particular answer, yes or no, will comprise the definitive whole of any particular situation, and either way represents but another step toward a future in which, one way or another, I’ll still be writing and publishing. At what level, of course, I know not.

Does that part matter in terms of the creative process? No—or at least, it better not!

Indeed, as I keep telling various interested parties, the process of creation itself seems to make me happy and fulfilled, and at this point I’ve certainly managed enough recognition and validation to know that my ambition to become a southern novelist and short story writer has already occurred, remains ongoing, and can’t really be forestalled except through my own action (or inaction).

Action. That’s what’s needed today. And in my case, that involves pressing on with this current project of mine, preparing to teach again in the fall, waiting to hear back about this important submission, and continuing to consider and learn about the myriad nontraditional publication possibilities available to writers here in the modern era. That sound like enough to keep me occupied?

In other words, Crisis of Confidence 2013 has ended, and today we continue on with the writing and researching of the project that will represent the culmination of my writing journey, one that began when I was but a lad, and will continue until the day I can no longer function. Onward!


About dmac

James D. McCallister is a South Carolina author of novels, short stories, and creative nonfiction. His latest book, a story collection called The Year They Canceled Christmas, releases in November 2017.

2 Replies

  1. Nancy Brock

    Last weekend I attended the Hub City Press Writing in Place Workshop. Wiley Cash (A LAND MORE KIND THAN HOME) taught the Fiction tract. He shared with us his experience; Pat Conroy’s agent represented him for 1 1/2 years and couldn’t sell his manuscript. Cash signed with another agent, got published, and is now shortlisted for the PEN/Bingham award. Patience and perservance.

    1. Thanks, Nancy. I just feel that so far this summer my traditional publishing trajectory took a step or two back, but as I said, we’ll see what happens with MANSION OF HIGH GHOSTS and a few other pieces I’ve sent out into the world.

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